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First, I want to clarify that I don't like using the word "fasting" to describe this concept because it is a novel term used for people trying to lose weight, but this is the term that describes this concept in English so I will use it.

For us, Eastern Orthodox fasting means to stop eating anything that comes from the interior of an animal: meat, milk, eggs, etc. Honey is permitted because it is not coming from the bees, but bees transform the flower pollen into honey, but the honey is not a substance that is produced by the bee's body (even if they dissolve the pollen with their saliva).

During the Christmas fasting (which started on 17 November and ends on 25 December), we can eat fish and seafood once a week. I know that as you move to the west, fasting is not a thing anymore. Catholics can't eat meat but can eat milk, eggs, etc.

It is worth mentioning that fasting is not related to food exclusively, it also means praying a lot more than usual and keeping your body away from any earthy pleasure (partying, shopping, alcohol) And if you move more to the west fasting isn't a thing at all.

What is your denomination and do you believe that fasting brings a Christian closer to God in any way? There is also a type of fasting that we call "black fasting" where you can't eat anything at all. You can drink just water.

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  • This article may be of help: bible.org/series/%7B%7D.?page=445. Nov 21, 2022 at 19:16
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    My personal view is that we should imitate Job. Job 23:12 says, "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread." Fasting accompanied by reading Scripture, meditating and praying is how we prove that God's Word is more important to us than food. Nov 21, 2022 at 19:18
  • Hi. Thanks for contributing. However we are a bit different from other sites. Questions asking for personal opinions are explicitly off topic. Please have a look at our help pages for how this site works and what can be asked. Nov 21, 2022 at 21:03
  • @DJClayworth I modified the question
    – Bogdan
    Nov 21, 2022 at 21:10
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    Neither is fasting a novel term, nor is it a concept foreign to western people. Maybe this particular kind of fasting, but not fasting as a concept or practice.
    – kutschkem
    Nov 22, 2022 at 8:39

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Fasting that is done for self-serving purposes is just that; self-serving. One should not fast primarily to get closer to God or to better oneself spiritually or to derive some physical or spiritual benefit. All of these may occur but to make them the primary goal misses the mark. The self deprivation associated with the fast should be intended to free oneself to meet the needs of others. Anything else is just man doing religion.

Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. - Isaiah 58:3-11

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I am Eastern Orthodox also. I think you are not entirely correct about fasting (because I think the point is not just resigning from pleasures, it has to have a specific purpose). It's about not doing the things you are attached to (and not doing things that you like and don't need). Yes, it can be simplified to just not eating the things you like, but the point is to learn to let go of attachment to material things. Then you actually have more time and energy to take care of spiritual side of life. So instead of just not eating meat (provided that you like meat), you can as well stop watching movies you like or stop reading a book you like and do something more spiritual (or at least more meaningful) in that time. That means fasting is a period of more spiritual exercise and personal sacrifices. This is the time in which you should work more intensely on yourself. With time it can be intensified depending on how much of that you can take on. In that sense yes, it can bring you closer to God (as you spend more time on spirituality and actually you are getting rid of at least some of bad habits, make a revision of your lifestyle). Just not eating meat makes you a temporary vegetarian, nothing more.

Edit: in other words, it's the time to push yourself out from a comfort zone, try to evaluate your life, let go from anything that can make it harder to concentrate on your inner life. It's hard, so fasting is periodical (two days in a week, or a month straight etc), because some rest is needed in between.

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  • If you read my entire thread. I said that: 1) Fasting is not about food exclusevly(It means to stop doing actions that make someone pleasure. I gave the example if someone likes going to the mall for shopping, should stop doing this while fasting periods). May I ask you where are you from if you are Eastern Orthodox?
    – Bogdan
    Nov 21, 2022 at 20:43
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In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we fast to humble ourselves, petition the Lord for blessings, and commune with the Lord. For those physically able, fasting is completely abstaining from food and drink for a period of time, typically 24 hours.

As a church, we fast on the first Sunday of every month. We also donate at least the amount we would have spent on food that day to feed the poor.

Details can be found in the article "Fasting and Fast Offerings".

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I guess if you can take the Bible verse where Jesus says... It is not what goes in your mouth that makes you unclean it is what comes out of it, then it could probably be a reasonable extrapolation of the source material that what does not go into your mouth is also not going to make you unclean.

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  • Meat or eggs or milk don't make you unclean in fasting, but not being able to refrain from eating a juicy grilled steak basted with butter. I mean if you plan to fast around Christmas, and your friends are hosting a grill party and you go saying "I'll do an exception today" you just lost a 1v1 battle between you and a steak. The steak was more powerful than your will, so how would you know that the love for gold won't be more powerful than your will to follow Jesus and reach the Kingdom of Heaven? Or how could you know that any other earthy thing will be more important than God for you?
    – Bogdan
    Nov 24, 2022 at 0:21
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Does "fasting" bring a Christian closer to God?

If done with the right dispositions and humility, any mortifications (fasting included) can bring us closer to God.

One of the methods which Christian asceticism employs in training the soul to virtuous and holy living. The term originated with St. Paul, who traces an instructive analogy between Christ dying to a mortal and rising to an immortal life, and His followers who renounce their past life of sin and rise through grace to a new life of holiness. "If you live after the flesh", says the apostle, "you shall die, but if through the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live" (Romans 8:13; cf. also Colossians 3:5, and Galatians 5:24). From this original use of the term, we see that mortification, though under one aspect it is a law of death, under another and more fundamental aspect it is a law of life, and does not destroy but elevates nature. What it slays is the disease of the soul, and by slaying this it restores and invigorates the soul's true life.

Of the diseases it sets itself to slay, sin, the one mortal disease of the soul, holds the first place. Sin committed it destroys, by impelling to true penitence and to the use of those means of forgiveness and restoration which our Lord has confided to His Church. Temptations to sin it overcomes by inducing the will to accept hardships, however great, rather than yield to the temptations. To this extent, mortification is obligatory on all, but those who wish to be more thorough in the service of Christ, carry it further, and strive with its aid to subdue, so far as is possible in this life, that "rebellion" of the flesh against the spirit which is the internal incentive to sin. What is needed to achieve this victory is that the passions and sensual concupiscences, which when freely indulged exercise so pernicious an influence on human conduct, should be trained by judicious repression to subordinate and conform their desires to the rule of reason and in faith, as discerned by the mind. But for this training to be effectual it is not sufficient to restrain these desires of the flesh only when their demands are unlawful. They represent a twist in the nature, and must be treated as one treats a twisted wire when endeavouring to straighten it, namely, by twisting it the opposite way. Thus in the various departments of ascetic observance, earnest Catholics are constantly found denying themselves even in matters which in themselves are confessedly lawful.

Mortification, viewed thus as a means of curing bad habits and implanting good ones, has its recognized place in the methods even of those who are engaged in pursuing purely natural ends. What is peculiar to Christian mortification is, that it relies for the attainment of its spiritual objects, not merely on this natural efficacy of its methods, but still more on the aids of divine grace, for which, by its earnestness in self-discipline and the Christian motive which inspires it, it can plead so powerfully with God. And here, as further contributing to increase it spiritual efficacy, another motive for which it is practiced comes in. It is practiced likewise as an expiation for past sins and shortcomings, for it is the belief of the Catholic Church, that, although only the Atonement of Christ can offer adequate expiation for the sins of men, men ought not to make that an excuse for doing nothing themselves, but should rather take it as an incentive to add their own expiations to the extent of their power, and should regard such personal expiations as very pleasing to God. This explains why many of the mortifications practiced by devout persons are not directly curative of evil propensities, but take the form of painful exercise and privations self-inflicted because they are painful, e.g., fastings, hard beds, abstention from lawful pleasures, etc. Not that these external mortifications are of themselves available, for spiritual writers never tire of insisting that the internal mortification of pride and self-love in their various forms are essential, but that external penances are good only so far as they spring from this internal spirit, and react by promoting it. - Mortification

Even Our Lord fasted in the desert for 40 days. His first temptation by Satan, while in the desert, was to eat bread. If we can control our carnal desires the Devil will be at a loss to conquer us in other areas. Food is the basis of human existence for without it we can not survive in this life. Yet controlling our carnal instincts, we can control our other passions and sanctify ourselves and hopefully one day find ourselves saints in the eyes of God.

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